Mr. Kelly, the first former general to occupy the gatekeeper’s post since Alexander Haig played that role for President Richard M. Nixon during Watergate, is charged with quelling the chaos that has defined, distracted and often derailed Mr. Trump’s White House. But the president gave Mr. Priebus many of the same assurances of control, and then proceeded to undercut and ignore him — to the point where Mr. Priebus often positioned himself at the door of the Oval Office to find out whom the president was talking to.
Mr. Scaramucci epitomized the chaos of the West Wing. As a wealthy New York financier, he burst onto the political scene with a memorable performance in the White House briefing room, where he portrayed himself as a major, new player who had been assured he would report directly to the president, without the interference of intermediaries like Mr. Priebus or Sean Spicer, the president’s first press secretary.
It was soon clear that Mr. Scaramucci wouldn’t be a fixture of the administration, but a transitory figure who created an opportunity for Mr. Trump, with his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, to undertake the far-reaching shake-up intended to purge the White House staff of leakers and aides viewed as not sufficiently loyal to his cause.
Mr. Spicer quit the day Mr. Scaramucci was hired; Mr. Priebus left shortly after the rant in which Mr. Scaramucci accused him of undermining the president through leaks of information to reporters.
Mr. Kelly, who was Mr. Trump’s first secretary of homeland security, arrives at a critical juncture, when the president is confronted with North Korea’s growing nuclear ambitions, Russia’s aggressive diplomatic moves and continuing fighting in Iraq and Syria. The new chief of staff will also be charged with reviving a stalled legislative agenda. Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ended in failure last week, and there has been little progress on other major goals like tax reform or rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.
And despite his desire for discipline, it took only hours on Monday for Mr. Kelly to face his first White House leak, and it was about him. CNN reported that Mr. Kelly had been so upset about the president’s firing of James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, in May that he called Mr. Comey to say he was considering resigning, an account that was confirmed by a former law enforcement official who was told of the…